FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 18, 2014
Public Service Commission Sides with Utilities over Ratepayers
- Commission Approves FP&L Petition to Explore Fracking at Expense of Customers -
Tallahassee - Today the Florida Public Service Commission voted to approve FP&L’s request to invest in risky natural gas exploration at the expense of its customers by a vote of 4-1.
With the approval of the petition today, FP&L can now charge its customers more than $700 million a year for a fracking project in Oklahoma without a guaranteed rate of return for customers. In essence, FP&L could shift all shareholder risks of investing in energy projects to customers, thereby eliminating shareholder risks and maximizing shareholder profits. The proposed Woodward Project by FP&L is a speculative investment at best. At worst FP&L customers could wind up footing the bill for an expensive project that will yield nothing, similar to Duke Energy customers who paid for a nuclear power plant that was never built.
"The Public Service Commission thought today was Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa combined for Florida Power and Light, handing it a gift worth more than $700 million a year." said Frank Jackalone, Sierra Club's Florida Staff Director. But the PSC placed a lump of coal in ratepayers stockings, forcing us to pay the bill for FPL's environmentally-destructive fracking adventure in Oklahoma."
Just last month the Commission cited the need to gut Energy Efficiency measures by more than 90 percent because the utilities claimed costs associated with energy efficiency were too high. Yet today, the Commission voted to approve a project that at best will save customers between $.02 and $.06 cents a month on their utility bills. Further, Commissioners argued that the fracking project proposed by FP&L adds fuel diversity to the state.
“If the Commission were serious about fuel diversity in Florida they would have supported high energy efficiency measures - lowering the demand for energy while providing real relief in ratepayer’s monthly bills. Further the Commission should be urging utilities to expand into renewable energy sources like wind and solar,” said Tom Larson, volunteer co-lead of the Sierra Club Florida Energy & Climate Action Team.
This opens the door to other risky fracking projects to be presented to the Commission by utilities in Florida. Duke Energy has stated it would consider bringing similar fracking proposals to the Commission for approval based on the Commission’s vote. While Florida moves forward with more fracking, New York State has moved in the right direction banning fracking altogether based on serious health risks associated with the practice.
Senior Organizing Manager
1990 Central Avenue
St. Petersburg, FL 33712